Spring Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Four!


The Tuesday students were greeted with a small surprise today. I left up the board and fabric that I put behind the still life when I photograph it for my post. Temporarily, that is. I wanted the students to see the effect of the dark middle tone background and how it enhanced the light on the objects.

I don’t set up still lifes with a backdrop for a practical reason. A full class of twelve students wouldn’t work well if the tables were in a U shape. It doesn’t suit the available space. There are other reasons but that’s the main one.


As a result, the students have the weekly challenge of choosing a colour and treatment for their backgrounds. I think it’s a better learning experience than simply imitating what’s in front of them week after week. They may not agree!

There were more surprises in store on Tuesday. Last week, we talked about seeing our painting as blocks of colour. This week I suggested they keep that in mind but consider blocks of light and shadow, as well. Our next surprise was my demonstration.  I wanted to encourage everyone to try a more spontaneous approach and even take a few risks.

I felt confident that I could communicate these fairly simple objects without being overly careful or deliberate with my drawing or painting so I used a large round brush and worked over a very basic sketchy preparatory drawing. I established my lights first throughout the image. Then, thinking initially of blocks of colour and shadow, I worked quickly, occasionally stopping to allow an area to dry.

Watercolour demonstration by Barry Coombs

My demonstrations were quick and spirited but one could also describe them as messy. There are qualities, however, that I like and may not have attained through a slower, more steady process.

Some of my students are more ready for a new challenge than others. Everyone develops at their own pace. This Tuesday, they tried to escape their comfort zones. There were nerves and a few sighs early on but, in the end, it was fun!

Tuesday AM Critique

Tuesday AM Critique


Tuesday PM Critique




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4 Responses to “Spring Tuesday Watercolour Class – Week Four!”

  1. Ruth Bailey Says:

    How difficult for us to leave the comfort zone behind – but what growth can occur when we do! It’s nice to see your classroom. Now I have a more complete mental image of your classes and know why you use a 360 degree set-up with overhead lighting.

    • Barry Coombs Says:

      Thanks for the feedback. What’s your teaching studio look like?

      • Ruth Bailey Says:

        I teach at a Methodist camp facility, either in a large hall or in their nature center. There is a great view of the river out a wall of windows and tables and chairs are provided, so I arrange the tables as I please, but close to the edges of the room if I need to light a set up, so no one has to step on an extension cord.

      • Barry Coombs Says:

        It sounds like a lovely setting, Ruth.

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